Venezuela crisis US-backed coup d’etat attempt: Envoy

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New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The ongoing crisis in Venezuela is not an economic one but a US-backed coup d’etat attempt against President Nicolas Maduro, the Latin American country’s Ambassador to India Augusto Montiel said on Tuesday.

“The current crisis is not an economic one. It is actually a US-financed coup d’etat attempt against President Maduro,” Montiel told a select group of journalists here.

“There have been four coup d’etats in Venezuela. Three of them were faced by (former president Hugo) Chavez and one by Maduro. This is the second such attempt against Maduro,” he said.

Venezuela on Monday implemented fresh extension of the State of Economic Emergency Decree, announced by Maduro, with new authorisations to tackle domestic and foreign forces’ attempt to overthrow the government.

A new presidential decree announced aimed at protecting socio-economic rights and outlining actions to defend territorial sovereignty, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The new legal instrument, to last for 60 renewable days, extends the emergency decree signed for the first time on January 14 and renewed on March 14 for 60 more days.

The decree gives the Venezuelan government new authorisations to execute special security plans against possible “destabilising actions that intend to interrupt the country’s internal life” or its international relations.

Maduro described the new instrument as including measures to defend the country against new “foreign threats”.

He referred to statements made by Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe Velez who called from the US to “institutionally challenge” Venezuela’s army, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.

The decree authorises the government to apply “special measures in foreign policy that impedes foreign interference”.

Also it establishes the “urgent” acquisition of items through national and international negotiations as a bid to satisfy local demand for goods and services given the increased amount of shortages.

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Ambassador Montiel said on Tuesday that the US has been continuously trying to take control of Venezuela’s huge oil and gas resources.

“In 2002, the first coup d’etat happened six months after a new hydrocarbon law was passed,” he said.

“We are not against the market. We just want regulations in place like any civilised country.”

He also pointed out that oil companies from India and several other countries were operating in Venezuela.

Indian Oil, Oil India Limited, ONGC Videsh, Reliance and Essar are the Indian oil majors that are currently operating in Venezuela.

Montiel said that the current shortage of food and essential items in his country were artificial creations.

He said lorries and trucks carrying food and essential goods for Venezuela were being emptied in Miami in the US and on the Colombia side of the South American nation’s border.

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“In September, Venezuela will be assuming chairmanship of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement),” the ambassador said.

“Ahead of that, the US is trying to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” he stated.

He said that the US has posted 50,000 troops in Honduras “to get into Venezuela”.

“There are US military bases in Colombia and Honduras. US ship naval ships are constantly patrolling near the Venezuelan coast,” Montiel said.

As for former Colombian president Velez’s call to challenge Venezuela’s army, the ambassador wondered what kind of foreign policy would it be if a country was invaded because it was facing some internal crisis.

“In that case European countries like Spain, Greece and Iceland all faced economic crises. Why wasn’t action taken against them?” Montiel asked.



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